Tuesday, July 26, 2011

THREE Days of Train Travel: July 23rd, 24th, and 25th

As you know, we spent the day in one train station: Marseilles. Literally—12 hours! We boarded our overnight train at 11:30pm and didn’t get off it until 11:30am the next day. Yikes! That marks the longest layover followed by the longest trip either one of us has ever had. We could have been in Brazil by now! Instead, we moved from central, southern France to western, southern France and ate McDonald’s three times in one day. There’s a reason they invented planes.

We “slept” in a room for 6 people: 3 bunk beds stacked on each wall. Luckily for us, only four of the beds were occupied: two by us, and two by a friendly, Parisian couple. They were clean and quiet, so we were happy. Each bunk was provided a sheet/sleeping bag thing and a pillow. There was no place to stash our luggage (and besides we wanted to be able to keep a close eye on it) so we put it in the bunks with us. That meant that we got to squeeze in alongside our luggage. So cozy! The train bumped and jostled along the tracks through the night, and we did the best we could to sleep in our little Gaza strips. I think I had two different periods of 4-hours of sleep. That makes 8 hours if you add it all together, right?

When the train finally arrived at our destination, we weren’t even sure it was the right place. It looked desolate! Instead of the bustling, busy station that we had gotten accustomed to in Marseilles, we were now stranded in Irun, Spain. There was one small café, but it was closed, I guess because it was Sunday. At least I had brought a few snacks with me. (Hopefully after this experience, B will stop making so much fun of my tendency to travel with little snacks and bottles of water—he would have had to deal with Mrs. Cranky Pants if I had been stuck here and hungry!). There were plenty of seats for the twenty-or-so people who were waiting with us. However, the seats were nothing more than glorified train tracks repurposed as benches. I bet you can imagine what our butts felt like after sitting on blocks of wood for 5 hours. 

To make the whole experience complete, I had the joy of sitting next to a man who smacked his lips after every sip of his drink. Just when I thought he was done torturing me, he seemed to magically produce another bottle of juice. Ugh! At long last, all his beverages and smacking lip noises were done. Or so I thought. I guess with nothing else to do, he figured he should loudly snore his way through a nap. Oh if only I wasn’t attached to the electrical outlet by this seat! I could barely, barely stand all his weird snap, crackle, and pop noises. B and I just kept making eyes at each other across the aisle. Anything to make the time pass…

We eventually boarded our train headed south to Madrid. First class seats--they were the best! We had plenty of room to stretch out, our seats reclined, and they served us dinner. You know how I love my meals. I did the best I could to watch the movie as well: Morning Glory, but it was tricky because it was in Spanish. (I guess that’s what happens when you travel through Spain). The beautiful Spanish countryside, and the six hour train ride, just seemed to fly by.

Consider the juxtaposition of that sweet ride to our next train, and you might understand why we called it the train ride from hell. The next train was an overnight ride from Madrid to Lisbon. It was twelve hours long. We did not have beds. We had seats—and they weren’t even good seats! In fact, we decided that they were the second worst seats on the entire train. Every row of seats on the train faced forward, except for the row in front of us. They faced backwards and didn’t recline (those were officially the worst seats). Are you getting the complete picture here? They faced us. So, for twelve bumpy, squishy, uncomfortable hours, we sat in the same clothes from the day before and tried to keep our knees from bumping into the Greek college boys across from us. Oh yeah, and we were somehow supposed to sleep.

[No pictures to share from this leg of the trip. 
As B said, "I don't want to remember that."]

Needless to say, when we finally arrived in Lisbon and made it to our hotel, we took the first room that was available. We checked in, showered, and took a six hour nap. Many, many hours later, we woke from the dead and ventured outside to enjoy the city that we went to SO much trouble to get to.


  1. Ugh. Sounds like a pain. Glad you made it through!!

  2. This post made me literally LOL....your descriptions are so funny.

  3. ugh, my nightmare in so many ways, glad you survived, and had a wonderful place to end up and relax and eat and sight see. Where to next?


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